There's one death Ritter rarely speaks of.
One afternoon, he was driving a church truck down a rutted, two-lane road. He slowed down to pass a group of people in the roadway, honking to warn them that his vehicle was approaching, he recalls. Then an elderly man carrying a piece of wood walked quickly into the road.
Ritter says he couldn't steer the truck away in time.
"He just came right into my path," he says. "And I had already slowed down. And I braked and swerved to miss him, and it was the back end of the pickup that knocked him over."
"Very big tragedy"
Ritter seldom speaks of the fatal accident in Africa, comparing it to a war veteran's memories.
Ritter and Billy Fuller, a fellow missionary riding with him, say they scrambled out of the car to see whether the man, an elderly villager, was all right. Then, they placed him in the back of the truck and rushed him to a hospital, they say. The man, whom Ritter soon discovered was the father of a local priest he knew, died within 24 hours.
The day of the accident, Ritter and Fuller say, they contacted the police and church members. The police, after interviewing witnesses, cleared Ritter of wrongdoing, according to church officials. The U.S. State Department does not track such incidents.
Ritter says accidents were common in the underdeveloped country. He sought "spiritual counseling" from priests and other missionaries involved in similar episodes, he says.
"Bill was just devastated," Fuller says. "He didn't go to Africa to kill somebody. He went over there to help."
Ritter says he seldom speaks of the incident, comparing it to a war veteran's memories.
"It is a very big tragedy," he says. "But it was one of many, many things."
Good people have accidents, sometimes. A big press conference called by a partisan political opponent with one witness of many to an event two decades ago and half a world away, is no way to get at the truth.